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Curtis Legacy Foundation

Buena Vista, CO   |  https://www.curtislegacyfoundation.org

Mission

We deepen the public’s understanding of Native Americans by providing innovative learning opportunities, using the work of Edward Curtis as our platform.

Ruling year info

2019

President

John Edward Graybill

Main address

PO Box 4027

Buena Vista, CO 81211 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

83-3293570

NTEE code info

Cultural, Ethnic Awareness (A23)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We want to expand upon the work that Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) started by providing a way for contemporary Native Peoples to tell their stories and highlight their permanence. Like many people of his day, Curtis wrongly believed Native Peoples were vanishing from this world. He was driven to “make them live forever” through creating "The North American Indian," a twenty-volume photographic and ethnographic publication that is now recognized for the beauty of its many photographs and its unparalleled details of early 20th-century Native cultures. Curtis’s great-grandson, John Graybill, created the Curtis Legacy Foundation to preserve his family’s history and to proclaim the resilience and strength of today’s Native Peoples.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Descendants Project

The Descendants of Edward S. Curtis’ photographs of Indigenous Peoples have powerful voices to be heard – messages of survival, strength, and resistance. Their stories tell of paths that celebrate their Native heritage and cultures. The Descendants Project™ highlights these stories in their voices, linking the past, present, and future.​

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

The Curtis Census is an ongoing effort to identify and locate all known sets and volumes of "The North American Indian." Published by Edward Curtis from 1907 to 1930, The North American Indian was planned to be a limited edition of 500 sets. Due to the extremely high cost of the publication and the prolonged publication cycle, it’s thought that no more than 300 complete or partial sets were finally printed. This census will determine, as accurately as possible, the actual number of complete or partial sets that were printed and their present locations.

Population(s) Served
Academics
Adults

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Graybill/Curtis family passionately values Native cultures and wants to carry forward the family legacy. As in Curtis’s original work, we are not just about the photographs. Our Descendants Project supports the past, present, and futures of Native Peoples, bringing visual realities to their words and voices. We want to listen to their stories and share them with others so that we all have a better understanding of what it means to be Indigenous People in this land, in these times.

We preserve the history of Edward S. Curtis through research and publications about his life and by safeguarding important archives of his work:
• We safeguard the history of Edward Curtis by securing family archives, documents, images, and other materials that provide unique insights into Curtis’s life.
• We provide an unparalleled library of photographs, documents, family stories, and research archives about the life and work of Edward S. Curtis.
• Our Curtis Census project documents the locations and provenance of all known copies of "The North American Indian."

We advance knowledge about the rich cultures of the Peoples and places Edward Curtis once saw:
• Through the Descendants Project, we amplify the continuing stories of the Peoples whom Curtis photographed and recorded at the start of the 20th century.

The Foundation was created and is led by Curtis’s great-grandson, John Graybill. John and his wife Coleen are both guardians of the family archives and award-winning photographers. They bring a unique knowledge and perspective to this work that can best be seen in The Descendants Project, in which they seek out, photograph, and interview descendants of some of the Native Peoples that Edward Curtis photographed. The stories they record from the descendants provide the 21st-century viewpoint of North American Native history, culture, struggles, and successes.

In addition to John and Coleen, the Foundation’s board is actively engaged in studying all aspects of Edward Curtis’s life and his 30-year project, The North American Indian. The board includes John’s two sisters, Ann Bonin and Janet Parcher; Mark Andrew, great-grandson of the owner of the company that made the original copper plates for The North American Indian; Dr. Liz Ross, Inupiat, a business professor and instructor; Tim Greyhavens, an independent historian of photography and author of several studies about Curtis; and Dr. Shawn Pohlman, a clinical nurse specialist, professor, qualitative researcher, and published author

Our initial goal is to locate and record the stories of fifty descendants of some of the Native Peoples who appeared in The North American Indian. We have completed nine interviews so far and plan to complete at least twenty more by the end of 2020. This work is very time-consuming because of the research involved to identify individuals and to travel to the remote locations where some of those people now live.

We have successfully integrated the previously independent Curtis Census, an ongoing effort to identify and locate all known sets and volumes of The North American Indian, into our programs, and we plan to publish a final report about that effort early next year. We also continue to add to our extensive online library of historical documents, some of which are available exclusively on our website.

Financials

Curtis Legacy Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Curtis Legacy Foundation

Board of directors
as of 02/23/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

John Graybill

Curtis Legacy Foundation

Term: 2019 - 2025


Board co-chair

Liz Ross

Tim Greyhavens

Ann Bonin

Janet Parcher

Liz Ross

Coleen Graybill

John Graybill

Tamara Stands and Looks Back-Spotted Tail

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/16/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/21/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.